Parents, know your special education rights

Aug 27, 2017 by

Here’s what your school district might not be telling you about your child’s IEP, and what you can do about it

Jennifer Laviano and Julie Swanson –

It all seems very simple. A special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), was enacted by Congress in 1975 (originally called the Education for All Handicapped Children Act) to ensure that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children.

But nothing is ever simple.

At least once a day, a parent we represent asks us, “Why would they do that? It doesn’t make any sense.” Sometimes, the decisions that school districts make don’t make sense. In those cases, we remind our clients that you can’t use logic to talk someone out of a position they didn’t use logic to get into.

However, more often than not, there are reasons for what may seem like totally arbitrary decision making. It’s just that those reasons are unknown to most parents, who don’t have the benefit of dealing with numerous school districts every single day. When you have that perspective, as we do, you start to realize that there are multiple agendas and competing interests operating within a school district that motivate the decisions made at Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. (IEPs are legally required documents, generated by a team of educators and the parents of the child, which serve almost like a contract between the school and the parents. They outline what the school intends to provide the child.) This perspective includes understanding that each of the educators has her own perspective, job, role, and sometimes, fears. As a parent, you would understand why someone responded a certain way at your child’s meeting if you knew that one of the people there is another person’s direct supervisor. Or that regular education teachers often don’t feel the same pressure to follow the orders of the special education administrator as someone who reports directly to that administrator. Or that the behind-the-scenes politics of the building are influencing how the educators around that table are interacting with one another. Or that the way your state sets up certain funding mechanisms is, in fact, a huge barrier to getting what you want at the meeting. But nobody around the table is likely to tell you all of this.

 

Continue: Parents, know your special education rights – Salon.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.